TIME picks Elon Musk as 2021 Person of the Year

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TIME has selected a Person of the Year for nearly 100 years.

Elon Musk has been named TIME’s 2021 Person of the Year, as the one person the company believes has had the most impact — for better or worse — on the world in the past twelve months. 

Musk is the second richest person in the world, and has risen in prominence to a household name in recent years thanks to ventures such as his electric car company Tesla, spaceflight program SpaceX and his unfiltered Twitter commentary. 

The billionaire from South Africa has dominated headlines in 2021, sometimes triumphant and sometimes in shame. 

In September, for example, SpaceX launched the first all-civilian mission to space. The next month, Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million to a Black employee who accused Musk’s auto company of ignoring racial abuse. 

In September, TIME released a list of the 100 most influential people of 2021. Elon Musk was on that list, foreshadowing his eventual nomination and naming as 2021’s Person of the Year. 

The title, which is bestowed at the end of the year by TIME’s editors, is not necessarily an honor. It is the magazine’s attempt to highlight the person who has had the most influence on the world over the past year, and has increasingly in recent years been used to highlight those whose year in review appears to be an example of more influence moving forward. 

Celebrities and political leaders showcased on the seven special covers announcing TIME’s 100 most influential list included Prince Harry and Meghan, gymnast Simone Biles, actor Kate Winslet, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, director-general of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CEO of NVIDIA Jensen Huang and writer Cathy Park Hong.

That list of influential people also included 10 climate leaders, dozens of advocates for a variety of topics and 54 women, including 18-year-old Olympic champion Suni Lee, who was the youngest to be featured in TIME’s top 100.

Last year, TIME named then-President-elect Joe Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris in a dual nomination, beating out finalists Donald Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci and the movement for racial justice.

TIME has selected a Person of the Year for the past 93 years, and has expanded the selection to various other categories including Businessperson of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.